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You can now earn Marriott Bonvoy points and elite nights by renting houses in Australia and New Zealand

June 15, 2022
8 min read
living room with lounge chairs and balcony looking out over Sydney Harbour Bridge
You can now earn Marriott Bonvoy points and elite nights by renting houses in Australia and New Zealand
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If you haven't heard, Australia and New Zealand are once again welcoming tourists from many countries around the world after being shut down and isolated for the better part of two years.

In true TPG fashion, we had reporters on the ground in the two countries to check out what changed during the pandemic, what it's like to visit now and even review a few hotels, like the Park Hyatt Auckland and The Tasman, part of Marriott's Luxury Collection.

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And now, for Marriott Bonvoy loyalists planning a trip to the Southern Hemisphere, hotels aren't the only way to earn or redeem points Down Under. This week the company announced that its home rental arm, Homes & Villas by Marriott International, is operating in select destinations in both Australia and New Zealand.

While companies like Airbnb and Vrbo are usually front of mind when thinking about home rentals, many hotel brands are taking a shot at the business, including Accor and Mandarin Oriental. Marriott, which entered the space back in 2019 and recently celebrated the collection's third birthday, now has over 60,000 listings across 700 locations.

Homes & Villas by Marriott is different from its competitors in many ways, starting with the fact that it offers a hotel-like experience in the comfort of a home.

All of the collection's rentals have been specially curated to meet Marriott's brand standards and are all managed by private management companies rather than a regular person with a vacation home to rent when they're not using it.

The main difference is that with Homes & Villas, Marriott Bonvoy members have the opportunity to earn and redeem points on stays, plus elite qualifying nights. And we're all about chasing points and status here.

Related: How I triple stacked and earned 210,000 points and miles on an epic Marriott Homes & Villas booking

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Now, you can take that chase to the other side of the planet with over 350 homes added to Homes & Villas in popular destinations like Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Orange, Australia, as well as Auckland and Queenstown, New Zealand, among other locales.

For a stunning view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, you could rent an apartment with three bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms in Kirribilli (pictured at the top of this article) starting at 700 Australian dollars ($480) or about 84,000 points per night, as shown on the search page.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)
(Screenshot from marriott.com)

However, when I clicked into the listing to see how that initial price compared to selecting actual dates, things got a little messy.

First, to book for two nights between June 27 and June 29, the price skyrocketed to AU$1,168 (about $800) per night, and included a AU$2,000 ($1,372) refundable deposit, AU$300 ($200) cleaning fee and AU$233.77 ($160) in taxes for a grand total of AU$4,871.43, or $3,505.48 as shown directly on the booking page.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

When I started clicking around to see what dates the displayed AU$700 nightly rate was available, multiple times I encountered a notification that the minimum stay required for my dates was 21 nights.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

Not until the calendar hit November did I find stays bookable for less than three weeks, but still with a three-night minimum. This time for the same AU$1,168 rate as broken down above.

Doing my due diligence, I clicked into a less expensive apartment offering "World Class 360° Sydney Harbour Bridge & Opera House Views." This one was initially shown as AU$232 (about $150) or 28,000 points per night.

Again, I found that stays before November required a 21-night minimum stay. For the November dates that were available for a mandatory three-night minimum, prices were significantly higher than initially shown, this time AU$872.35 (nearly $600) per night.

It appears that in New South Wales, short-term rentals have various caps, including only 180 days per year in the greater Sydney area for homes where the owner isn't present or minimum stays of at least 21 days, according to the NSW Department of Planning and Environment website.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the warmer summer months take place during the Northern Hemisphere's winter, which is most likely why shorter rental terms are available during those months as travelers flock to busy tourist areas like Sydney.

(Photo courtesy of Marriott)

In Queenstown, a property called "Jaw-dropping lake and mountain views" initially appears in the search box for $445 per night (the search in New Zealand was listed in U.S. dollars versus the search in Australia that appeared as Australian dollars) or 74,000 points per night. Not a bad deal for a five-bedroom, three-bathroom house.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)
(Screenshot from marriott.com)

But again, it was a flustering experience attempting to book this property as there was only one available booking option for all of 2022: Aug. 12, with a five-night minimum.

It's worth noting as well that many homes that participate in home-sharing programs are available on multiple platforms, which is often a reason availability is limited beyond local ordinances.

For example, this property is also available to rent on Vrbo where the calendar shows it's fully booked except for the same dates as shown on Homes & Villas.

This time the rate was also significantly higher than initially listed, coming in at 1,017 New Zealand dollars (about $632). It also added a NZ$750 ($465) refundable security deposit, a NZ$386 ($240) cleaning fee and NZ$319 ($198) in taxes for a total of NZ$6,540, or $4,287.62 as shown in the booking window.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

These prices aren't too far from what the property is being listed for on Vrbo, where everything is shown in U.S. dollars. There, the nightly rate was $637.11 with a $241.95 cleaning fee, $199.95 in taxes and a $470.10 refundable deposit. The total on Vrbo came out to $4,097.57, as shown below.

(Screenshot from vrbo.com)

There's about a $200 price difference between booking on Vrbo and through Marriott. Booking through Vrbo doesn't have the obvious perks that you'll get booking through Marriot, but if you do go this route there are ways to maximize your spending to earn points and miles in other ways.

If you do book through Marriott, the booking window also conveniently shows you how many Marriott Bonvoy points you'll earn if you're signed in to your account (as shown below for me) or an estimate of how many points you could earn if you're not signed in. For this particular stay, I would earn 15,829 points.

(Screenshot from marriott.com)

Normally, you earn 5 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent on Homes & Villas stays, while those with elite status can earn up to 75% additional bonus points.

Right now, the program is offering a promotion where members who book a stay of at least five consecutive nights at a single Homes & Villas by Marriott property by June 22 and complete the stay by Dec. 31 will earn double points and a free night certificate for use at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.

While finding available dates can be a finicky process with Homes & Villas, the rewards can be substantial — especially compared to Airbnb where you might have similar issues finding dates or where surprise cleaning fees change the entire booking.

The program also offers favorable cancellation policies that appeal to guests as we continue trekking on through a slightly more normalized version of life during a pandemic.

Bottom line

In some ways, it feels like the wild, wild west in the world of home-sharing. However, Homes & Villas by Marriott is one alternative that provides an elevated service that comes with the perk of earning or redeeming points and elite qualifying nights.

The introduction to New Zealand and Australia is very fresh, but we hope that properties open up more availability within the program so members can actually take advantage of it when it makes more sense to book a home than a hotel.

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Marriott)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
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5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees